Saturday, June 24, 2006

East of the Altamont

This is a little diversion from my planned series, but I have dug up a few things that are worth a comment. Not unsurprisingly, they deal with water and politics.

Since I am always concerned about the balkanization of the internet, that blogs such as this are maintained as a coffee klatsch for people who already agree on almost everything, I make it a habit to go to other sites, like the very Republican, Pombo-supporting San Joaquin Blog. They have a current series of posts regarding Reclamation District 348 which is supposed to provide levee protection for the town of Thornton from the ravages of the Mokulemne River. Blog Member Philomath, posting under the title "Sunlight IS The Best Disinfectant" describes a situation in which the board for this 9,000 acres district is elected where each land owner can vote on the basis of one acre - one vote. Not unsurprisingly, the board consists of only the large land owners, who have voted to reduce assessments on their agricultural land and to increase assessments on residential land.

This is backed up with references to another blog, RD 348 Scandal. It makes interesting reading. There are potential abuses of several laws here, including the Brown Act. And the rest of the situation just stinks.

So, what is my point? Well, there are several.
  • Politics in San Joaquin County is intimately connected to water and agriculture.
  • Politics in San Joaquin County is full of backroom deals put together by big land owners and developers.
  • All political parties have those who find this abuse of power to be deserving of specific action, especially when it can be shown to hurt the average person on the street, the home owner, the middle class of America.
  • The best function of the blogosphere is to let in a little sunshine and then to organize the action of ALL those who find such abuse of power to be actionable. That is what PomboWatch and SNTP and CA-11 have been doing.
  • We have to find a way to be inclusive of all those who have our goal, which is to "Say Not to Pombo" and all who would use their office for personal gain.
One step that needs to be taken is to break down these pockets of power, which are the backbone of the Republican Party power in San Joaquin County. Each one that we can disrupt is one more that no longer has any power to deliver support to Pombo. But, it requires people from East of the Altmont to do it.


Anonymous JohnMac said...

The link to 'San Joaquin Blog' blog cited early in the article is broken.

6:26 PM, June 24, 2006  
Blogger babaloo said...

johnmac --
Thanks for the tip. It's fixed now.

9:14 PM, June 24, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This Sunday's (6/25) Stockton Record has an interesting article about the levees in Central California and how Richard Pombo, along with 17 of his colleagues, is trying to block FEMA from releasing the map for homes and land in danger if the levees were to break. They don't want the public to know that they are not protected from these levees in teh event of a disaster until AFTER the November election! Isn't that nice? Another New Orleans catastrophe coming to an area near you!

1:49 PM, June 26, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Scheduled release of flood maps has lawmakers on edge

Hank Shaw
Capitol Bureau Chief
Published Sunday, Jun 25, 2006

SACRAMENTO - The Federal Emergency Management Agency is slated to release a new set of flood maps in early October that could force Central Valley cities to spend millions on repairing local levees to keep every homeowner in town from having to spend roughly $1,200 a year on mandatory flood insurance.

On Wednesday, Reps. Dennis Cardoza of Merced, Richard Pombo of Tracy and 16 other California representatives asked FEMA to delay release of those maps, which could send shock waves through their constituencies just weeks before the November election.

Not only will all 18 lawmakers be up for re-election, a $4.5 billion levee-repair bond also will be on the ballot. It is unclear what effect the release would have on the electorate.

Although the initial maps would not have the force of law, they would put communities such as Lathrop on notice that their levees are not up to snuff. Stockton faced a similar situation in 1995.

This round is different, however, because FEMA announced in August it would finally enforce laws already on the books requiring a stricterevaluation of levees that protect homes. Now a levee's internal construction will become more of a factor in evaluating its strength - bad news for Valley levees, many of which are essentially unengineered mounds of dirt.

Levees around Mossdale Landing in Lathrop are particularly suspect, according to state flood experts. Lathrop officials disagree, noting that their levees meet the federal standard, which allows for a one-in-100 chance of it failing every year.

Local flood officials have been wrangling with FEMA over the ground rules of the new evaluation, which are still in flux.

"It's hard to have a fight when we don't know what the battle's for," said Chuck Kelley, who runs the flood management section of the San Joaquin County Public Works Department.

And FEMA has been characteristically tough to deal with, officials say: Kelley said the first face-to-face meeting between the agency and San Joaquin County officials will not take place until this week.

Home builders worry that the preliminary maps could chill an already soft housing market by placing whole subdivisions into a flood plain.

The housing industry is among the largest contributors to the two congressmen; The Grupe Co. held a unique joint fund-raiser for Pombo and Cardoza last year. Grupe is one of many companies building behind levees set for re-evaluation.

Staffers for Cardoza and Pombo say politics has nothing to do with their decision.

"We're not trying to stop FEMA," Cardoza Chief of Staff Jennifer Walsh said. "It's the process that we're questioning. We think the time line given us is unworkable."

Walsh said release of the preliminary maps on such short notice could create a scenario in which a city with an old - but sound - levee cannot prove it to FEMA before the new maps emerge, falsely placing residents living behind the levee into the official flood plain.

"It's basically guilty until proven innocent," Walsh said. "This is bad for our constituents. They're going to be in a panic about living in a flood plain. There's a shock factor involved."

Ron Stork of the environmental group Friends of the River suggested that the proposed delay represents a power move by nervous members of Congress doing the bidding of their friends in the housing industry.

"They're trying to intimidate FEMA from doing its job," Stork said. "I've never met a congressman who wanted his community mapped into a flood plain - even if it is.

"And flood plain developers are terrified at even the release of the preliminary maps because it could reveal them for who they are: flood plain developers."

In 1997, the Valley's last big flood, thousands of acres of farmland and hundreds of homes were flooded.

FEMA - as well as most state flood experts - consider the 1997 event a "typical" 100-year flood. Should FEMA prevail, it would place huge swaths of those counties into the flood plain, an expensive and politically dicey dilemma for local politicians.

Contact Capitol Bureau Chief Hank Shaw at (916) 441-4078 or Visit his blog at

2:14 PM, June 26, 2006  
Anonymous Tom Benigno said...

What is wrong with you people, why are you letting Hank Shaw, draw conclusions for those who really care. Shaw is from Pombo gang supporter of oil barrons,and money grabbers. The bastard should be run out of the country. I say this with much passion, because this stooge of the developers, writes for the good of the developers. He is another Pimp as Pombo for the, right wing they call themselves Republicans. The Record should turn his colume into a funny papers. As now he write things about Pombo and Cardoza saying that they are trying to block FEMA from releasing the map of indangered areas of flood plane. I was making that a talking point on my TV show citizen's voice about two years ago then again in January of 2006. And then again at the Congressional forum in Tracy. That issue alone should have gotten me elected, but Shaw had to keep me off the radar. As he stated I don't see you on the radar. I wonder if he saw me on the radar when he was riding with Mc Closkey. Now it's too late.

Tom Benigno
candidate for congress the 11th

12:19 PM, July 02, 2006  
Anonymous Tom Benigno said...

I forgot to mention that this was a well planned situation to make sure Pombo got elected. Poor Jerry won't be able to win this election now. The levee deal will seal it for Pimpbo. Jerry needs to come up with a brainstorm idea. I don't think he has any in his box. Like his wind mills the just make wind. Jerry go after the milk lobby, that really makes a lot of smelly wind. The people over the hill have no idea what is going on.

Tom Benigno

12:31 PM, July 02, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

what a maroon

11:41 PM, July 04, 2006  

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